The Art of Medicine: Over 2,000 Years of Images and Imagination
by Julie Anderson, Emm Barnes and Emma Shackleton. University of Chicago Press, 2011

For millennia, artists have chronicled human health and the quest to preserve it. Behold the evolution of medicine through the ages, as encapsulated in this compendium of artifacts, drawings, paintings and biomedical images from the holdings of London’s Wellcome Collection.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World

by Lisa Randall. HarperCollins, 2011

Harvard University physicist Lisa Randall discusses the nature of science and the latest ideas in physics and cosmology. Below she recounts touring the world’s largest particle accelerator, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva.

“The first time I visited the LHC, I was surprised at the sense of awe it inspired—this in spite of my having visited particle colliders and detectors many times before.... Although the scientist in me recoils at first in thinking of this incredibly precise technological miracle as an art project—even a major one—I couldn’t help taking out my camera and snapping away. The complexity, coherence, and magnitude, as well as the crisscrossing lines and colors, are hard to convey in words....

“People from the art world have had similar reactions. When the art collector Francesca von Habsburg toured the site, she took along a professional photographer whose pictures were so beautiful they were published in the magazine Vanity Fair.... The actor and science enthusiast Alan Alda, when moderating a panel about the LHC, likened it to one of the wonders of the ancient world....

“I’ve heard such statements from people in all walks of life. The Internet, fast cars, green energy, and space travel are among the most exciting and active areas of applied research today. But going out and trying to understand the fundamental laws of the universe is in a category by itself that astounds and impresses. Art lovers and scientists alike want to understand the world and decipher its origins. You might debate the nature of humanity’s greatest achievement, but I don’t think anyone would question that one of the most remarkable things we do is to contemplate and investigate what lies beyond the easily accessible. Humans alone take on this challenge.”

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World,
by Daniel Yergin. Penguin Press, 2011

Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem,
by Carol Delaney. Free Press, 2011

Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College,
by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. Bloomsbury, 2011

by Jim Ottaviani. Illustrated by Leland Myrick. A graphic biography. First Second, 2011

Empire of the Beetle: How Human Folly and a Tiny Bug Are Killing North America’s Great Forests,
by Andrew Nikiforuk. Greystone Books, 2011

Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe,
by James D. Stein. Basic Books, 2011

Making Sense of People: Decoding the Mysteries of Personality,
by Samuel Barondes. FT Press, 2011

Dinosaur Hall. New addition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Picturing Science: Museum Scientists and Imaging Technologies. On view through June 24, 2012, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.